Smile Therapy

4 min read

I experimented with food for years before joining program. I noticed if I ate sugar in the morning, I was more likely to eat it in the afternoon, too, and also forget I’d already eaten some (the more I ate, the more I forgot). I noticed when I went without a certain sweet, I thought about it obsessively. When a doctor told me not to eat that sweet, I tried substitutes, but they weren’t the same. Instead, I ate more and more of other things to try to satisfy the craving, but I only got heavier, and I still had the craving. Next, I tried eating that sweet before I ate anything else, but then I really binged for the first time. Finally, I had to admit I was an addict.

A friend in my religious group was a member of OA and recommended the program to me, but I didn’t join. I didn’t think food addiction was serious. Yes, I was overweight, but so was my husband, and he didn’t mind if I was overweight. I didn’t understand that addiction has an emotional syndrome surrounding it. It wasn’t until my husband left me that I came to OA.

In my second week of program, I started hearing about the roles of resentment and fear in addiction. I felt as though scales had fallen from my eyes. I looked back at my failed marriage and realized it had been destroyed by resentment and fear. We had been the world’s most therapized family: We had individual therapists. The kids had individual and school therapists. I was in a support group. My ex and I had sat for years in marriage counseling, getting fatter and fatter. None of the therapists ever said anything about food addiction or the emotional syndrome associated with addiction.

I realized that resentment and fear would destroy my whole life if I didn’t do something about them. Weight wasn’t really the issue. We have a saying in OA: “I came for the vanity and stayed for the sanity.” That was me.

Yes, I’m 45 pounds (20 kg) lighter and have been this way for ten years, but that’s not the point. I asked a friend who has known me for many years why everyone is saying now that I’m so beautiful or I look fantastic, when I have grey hair and wrinkles and bags under my eyes—people didn’t say that when I was younger. She said that when I was younger I’d always been looking down. Now I’m smiling and making eye contact. That’s OA.

—Anne B.

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